News / Asia

S. Korean Beach Becomes Focus in Debate Over ‘Lawbreaking’ Foreigners

South Korean vacationers swim on Haeundae beach in Busan, South Korea, August 8 , 2010.
South Korean vacationers swim on Haeundae beach in Busan, South Korea, August 8 , 2010.
SEOUL — Police in South Korea's second largest metropolitan area are blaming foreigners, mainly Asian migrant workers, for committing an increasing number of crimes on one of the country's most popular beaches.
 
The police station at Haeundae beach has sent a letter to 1,600 companies in the Busan area asking for their help in preventing their foreign employees from breaking the law.  
 
The letter, dated July 10, asserts that during the summer vacation season foreigners “who drink and sleep in the park near the beach” are causing “many problems.” The letter also acknowledges that cultural misunderstandings may be exacerbating the situation.
 
A policeman at the Haeundae beach station denied any unfounded discrimination against foreigners explaining there are “many cases” involving foreigners. He spoke to VOA News on condition he not be named.  
 
South Korea is largely ethnically homogeneous, but the government has been pushing to embrace multiculturalism with more than 500,000 foreign workers legally in the country. Critics say the government still has policies that unfairly target foreigners, such as mandatory HIV and drug tests for foreign English teachers.
 
Beach Worries

On South Korea’s popular southeast coast, long-time visitors to Haeundae beach say they have noticed an increase in the number of foreigners in recent years. That is due, in part, police say, to busloads of migrant workers being dropped off at the beach by their companies during their summer holiday break.
 
An official at the National Police Agency, who did not want to be named, denied a report by the Busan Ilbo that officers in Busan had asked the hundreds of companies employing foreigners to keep them away from the 1.5 kilometer-long beach at the southeastern end of the city, one of South Korea's most popular destinations for families and students during the holiday season.
 
The police have printed materials for foreigners in Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia and English for distribution in the Busan area, home to 4.4 million people, explaining how “cultural differences” can lead to them being arrested.  
 
A separate advisory, circulated by the Human Resources Development Service of Korea to companies and posted online, alerts foreigners about the punishments for sexual assault and molestation convictions. It also warns against littering, public urination, rowdy behavior, damaging nature and taking photographs of people on the beach without their permission. It notes these same rules apply to South Korean citizens as well.
 
The incidents appear to be sensitive matter in Busan. Police, the city government and rights groups representing migrant workers in the area all declined requests for on-the-record interviews this week.

Foreigners Arrested
 
The Yonhap news agency says a Bangladeshi and a Vietnamese national on Monday were apprehended for allegedly molesting teenaged girls, while a Burmese was detained after he was accused of taking close-up photographs of bikini-clad beach-goers.

During the previous week, police say they arrested two Vietnamese and a Pakistani civil servant for secretly taking similar pictures.
 
Authorities are approaching the matter carefully for fear their “guidance activities” aimed at foreign laborers  could ignite a racism debate, writes Robert Koehler, an American, in an article titled Will the Foreigners PLEASE Stop Molesting Women at the Beach, in his popular weblog The Marmot's Hole.
 
Groups involved with migrant laborers say there may be several hundred thousand additional undocumented workers in the country.
 
Most migrant laborers in South Korea are from Thailand, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Vietnam. The majority of those legally employed work under government-to-government contracts in local industrial sectors.
 
Busan is the busiest trans-shipment port in Northeast Asia and its other flagship industries include steel and automobile parts manufacturing.

Youmi Kim also contributed to this report.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid